Planning to include native Ontario plants on your property?

Whether you are just interested in adding a few pollinator plants, or looking to replace all of your exotic species, these pages will help you plan!

Wildflowers are a great place to start. Try to incorporate plants that bloom at different times during the growing season for consistent nectar and pollen availability. Pollinating insects are quite diverse, in their time of activity during the growing season and in terms of the types of blossoms they are capable of extracting resources from. By choosing a diversity of flowers, you can be sure to offer food to more species!

Of course, the species of plants you select for your pollinator garden must be based on the environmental conditions of your site. The amount of sun exposure, soil type, and water availability are all important considerations here. Just like other living things, these conditions are super important determinants of plant success (consider the different habitat requirements of penguins and roadrunners!).

Listed below are two designs – one for full sun and one for shade. For a full sun site that does not stay wet throughout the year, the design below would provide pollen and nectar across the majority of the growing season, and offer ample diversity in flower shape to meet the capabilities of numerous bees species. And in addition to offering nectar to moths and butterflies, many of these plants will host growing caterpillars, including:

  • Glorious Flower Moth (Schinia gloriosa) on Dense Blazing Star;
  • Spring Azure (Celastrina “ladon”), Mottled Duskywing (Erynnis martialis), and Summer Azure (Celastrina neglecta) on New Jersey Tea;
  • Black Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) and the Ozark Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio joanae) on Golden Alexander;
  • Pearl Crescent Butterfly (Phyciodes tharos) on Smooth Aster;
  • … this list of pollinator interactions is large!!
Find out more about this design in the description below…

For a shady site, like in a space under the shade of a tree, check out the shade design on the above right. These plants will brighten up a shady nook, offer blooms at different times, and offer habitat to over-wintering pollinators (but only if you leave the leaves!). The spring fiddleheads are edible, the foam flower leaves are semi-evergreen, and the wild geranium is considered to be a keystone species as it could host up to 26 different species of native moths and butterflies. You may even find some developing northern pearly eye butterfly caterpillars growing on the bottlebrush rye 🙂

If you have more space, consider also planting native shrubs and flowering trees, which provide important spring nectar and pollen before many wildflowers bloom! By far, the most beneficial trees for pollinators are the oaks (Quercus spp.). There are also many flowering trees and shrubs that can also add a dynamic and structural component to your pollinator garden, providing interest across the seasons.

  • Pictured above are the Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis), and Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana), which blooms in the late fall!).

Find native plants at these local nurseries…

eARTh Revival is a native plant nursery that is providing wild-type plants appropriate for home gardens and restoration work to improve local ecosystems. We are supplying South Georgian Bay with native plants and seeds from our ecoregion through sustainable practices. We are growing 55 types of herbaceous native plants this year!

In collaboration with eArth Revival, Greentree Gardens and Emporium is featuring Pollinate Collingwood’s native plants – just look for our logo!

Greentree is full of flowers, trees, and all things green. We have edibles for your garden and advice on how to grow. We have tropicals for your inside and outside spaces.

We are a small native plant nursery in Grey County that specializes in Ontario native plants.  Our plants are chosen for their beauty, low maintenance, and to support local pollinators like butterflies and beneficial insects (like Lacewings!). We can help you create a gorgeous garden that makes a difference!

Return of the Native: Think of it as a small boutique operation, with a varied selection of perennial species, some not easily found. All are hardy in the Huronia area. We use no pesticides or commercial fertilizers, to ensure that our plants are safe for pollinators and other insects.

More local providers of native species…

There are native plant suppliers all over Ontario. We hope that this map is complete and inclusive, but if you know of a local supplier that is not featured here, please contact us!

While you make find native plants at the big box stores, be sure to check if they have been treated with neonicotinoid pesticides. These pesticides are quite common, making up nearly 30% of all pesticides sold worldwide, and contribute to declines in a variety of wildlife including wild pollinators, birds, and fish. So far, Canada has not banned this toxin.